Ag companies team up on corn stover research

by Eric Schroeder
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DECATUR, ILL. — Archer Daniels Midland Co., Deere & Co., and Monsanto Co. announced they have agreed to collaborate on research to explore technologies and processes to turn crop residues into feed and bioenergy products.

As part of the venture, the companies will work together to identify environmentally and economically sustainable methods for the harvest, storage and transport of corn stover. Corn stover, which comprises the stalks, leaves and cobs of corn plants, may be used in feed for animals, as biomass to generate steam and electricity or as a cellulosic feedstock for biofuel production. Corn stover typically is left on the field, where, in proper amounts, it helps reduce soil erosion and build up soil organic matter, the companies noted.

According to the companies, using crop residues for multiple purposes may allow farmers to produce more products without farming more acres, and increase the value derived from each acre.

"As the world's population grows, so will demand for food and energy," said Dr. Todd Werpy, vice-president of research at ADM. "Using non-food feedstocks for feed and energy is one way that agriculture can apply innovation to create renewable, sustainable solutions. There are a number of challenges associated with harvest, collection and storage of cellulosic biomass. This collaborative effort brings together three agricultural leaders to identify and address the complexities that come with commercializing a new feedstock."

The announcement comes a little more than a month after the three companies, along with E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. and the Renewable Fuels Association, teamed up to form the Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy, an organization committed to sustainably and responsibly improving diets and reducing dependence on fossil fuels through increased agricultural productivity.

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